George Townshend

George Townshend

GEORGE TOWNSHEND (29/08/1882 – 18/02/1967)

george-townshend-court-usher George was born on a farm in East Chiltington and spent his boyhood  on farms where his father was the manager or in pubs where his father was publican. Most of his adult working life was spent working on the Brighton & South Coast Railway company, before joining the railway police ending up as a sergeant. After retiring from the police, he took a job as court usher at the County Court in Lewes whilst living with one of his daughters in Garden Street by the station.

Most of his songs were learned from his father and the pair of them sang them together in harmony with the father taking the bass part and the son the treble. The Townshends knew the Copper Family and they would meet occasionally to sing together. There were quite a number of songs that were in both families’ repertoire and apparently they had close stylistic similarities.

George continued singing on his own after his father’s death and was always keen to sing on public. In the 1950s he met with other singers in pubs like The Punchbowl, The Oak Tree, in Ardingly and The Cherry Tree in Copthorne. It was at these pubs that he came to the attention of Tony Wales and Brian Matthews, all of whom recorded him. He sang at an early Folk Festival in Horsham and also several times at Cecil Sharp House.


(Vic Smith 2015)


(For a more detailed biography of George Townshend, see the on-line version of his Musical Traditions album notes at )



Come Hand to Me the Glass (Double CD 2012) Musical Traditions (MTCD305)

Recordings by Brian Matthews

CD 1

  1. The Echoing Horn
  2. I Wish They’d Do it Now
  3. The Garden Gate
  4. Blow Me Up the Apple Tree
  5. Pretty Nancy from Yarmouth
  6. Bold Reynolds
  7. All Jolly Fellows that Follow the Plough
  8. I Mounted My Neddy
  9. Hark, the Rock
  10. Dame Durden
  11. The Trees They’re All Bare
  12. ‘Twas Early One Morning
  13. Mowing Down the Meadow
  14. The Mistletoe Bough
  15. The Life of a Man
  16. Twenty, Eighteen …
  17. The Farmer’s Boy
  18. We’ll All Go a-Hunting Today
  19. Twanky Dillo
  20. When Adam Was First Created
  21. My Grandfather’s Clock
  22. Young Collins
  23. Joe The Carrier Lad
  24. When Spring Comes In
  25. The Young Brickmaker
  26. The Burial of Sir John Moore
  27. General Munro
  28. John Barleycorn


  1. I Wish I Were Single Again
  2. The Old Rustic Bridge
  3. The Anchor’s Weighed
  4. The Gypsy’s Warning
  5. The Merry Mountain Band
  6. Pleasant and Delightful
  7. The Trees they are All Bare
  8. Dame Durden
  9. Pretty Nancy of Yarmouth
  10. I Mounted My Neddy
  11. Bold Reynolds
  12. Dido, Spendigo
  13. Dido, Spendigo
  14. We’ll All Go A-Hunting Today
  15. The Echoing Horn
  16. When Spring Comes In
  17. Young Collins
  18. Hark the Rock
  19. The Mistletoe Bough
  20. All Jolly Fellows
  21. General Monroe
  22. The Trees They Are All Bare
  23. The Garden Gate
  24. Joe The Carrier Lad
  25. Pleasant and Delightful

‘Ripest Apples’ Various Artists (Veteran VT 107)

The Ploughboy’s Joy


‘Songs & Music of the Sussex Weald’ Various Artists (Folktape FTA 102)

Glittering Dewdrops

When the Spring Comes in

‘It was on a Market Day  Various Artists Veteran (VTC7CD)

The Ploughboy’s Joy

George Townshend was also recorded on the limited issue long-deleted LP “Welcome to the Festival” (FB12 101) but I have not been able to trace this.

George in the uniform of Court Usher in Lewes.



George Townsend of Sussex, by Tony Wales

pdf awaiting process @single-singer.php#135

Profile of George Townshend, by Vic Smith

pdf awaiting process @single-singer.php#135

George Townshend (1882-1967), by Clive Bennett

pdf awaiting process @single-singer.php#135

Article on George Townshend



Glittering dewdrops that spangles in the morn, The


Was early one morning just I was a-riding


Bold gentry of high renown come listen unto me


Day's fast spent, the moon shone bright, The


When the spring comes in the birds do sing

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